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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

News Highlights

  • Delta clocked over 10,000 cases in just 24 hours during the initial days of the second wave (Mar 3-4)
  • The Wuhan variant took nearly 100 days to acquire community transmission in the country
  • Omicron has the potential to acquire community transmission proportions in the country in just 30 -days time.

Omicron opened its account in Odisha by scoring a two on Tuesday. The new variant of concern's transmissibility is to the fore as the country has recorded 200 Omicron cases in just 18-days (Dec 2-20), when in the First Wave an equal number of cases had been reported after 45 days.

The quicker 200 by the new variant of concern (VOC) leads to a basic poser - is the variant spreading faster in the country?

Omicron Outperforms Delta?

A glance at the Second Wave underlines the epidemiological changes in the country. Data revealed that the Delta variant had grown at a faster pace than Omicron, but the caveat here is the rate of infection in the population of the country had been low at 24.1 percent and the vaccinated population was zero then.

Even though when a massive 67.6 percent of the population in the country had been infected, and the fully vaccinated populace nationally stands at over 48 percent as of today, the rapid 202 omicron infections, including Odisha, in the country tell the growth tale of the variant.

Moreover, the Delta variant ran amok in the country when the average weekly daily caseload was over 11,000. Now, the weekly average caseload in the country has been around 7.5k (from Dec 2, when the first omicron case was identified).

Omicron in Odisha

The Covid-19 (Wuhan Variant) took 48 hours to touch 2 in Odisha (March 2020), whereas the Delta variant clocked 200 new cases in just 24 hours. The comparison nails the high transmissibility of Delta in Odisha.

On Dec 21, the State reported two Omicron positives. It becomes the 13th state in the country with Omicron variant. While one had returned from Nigeria, an at-risk country, the other was a returnee from Qatar. Though 21 contacts have been identified, the State Health Department didn't provide the count of low and high-risk contacts.

As per Odisha govt data, 1,600 people had returned from at-risk countries to Odisha, and as of date, 2 have been detected with the new variant.

Like the rest of the states, the positives detected to date had an international travel history. As the city-based ILS since Nov 21 had sequenced genomes of around 350 samples, including 19 foreign returnees, only 2 among them showed the presence of the new mutant.

This shows the virus is yet to penetrate into the community in the country, including Odisha.

First Wave Vs Omicron  

Unlike Delta triggered Second Wave, the First Wave in the country took time to peak. It clocked 200 cases in 45 days. The reason behind the slow pick of Wuhan variant vis-a-vis Delta is while the former was imported to India, the latter had been a home-grown mutant.

For which, Delta clocked over 10,000 cases in just 24 hours during the initial days of the second wave (Mar 3-4). This sharp spurt had been attributed to widespread community transmission in the country.

As per an analysis of the First Wave data, the Wuhan variant took nearly 100 days to acquire community transmission in the country.

However, the pace of 200 cases hints big. Unless the Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is maintained, Omicron has the potential to acquire community transmission proportions in the country in just 30 -days time.

UK Lessons

Given that Omicron doubling rate in the UK has been 2.09 -days vis-a-vis 3.2 days in the case of Delta variant, the UK Health Security Agency had already alerted that community transmission is on in UK. The new mutant attained community transmission in just 19 days, despite 70 percent of the UK population being fully vaccinated. The above timeline indicates how rapid has been the transmission of Omicron in UK.   

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